Ovechkin’s reign over the NHL is as strong as ever

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 10: Capitals left wing Alexander Alex Ovechkin (8) looks with intense eyes as he skates to a face-off during the Pittsburgh Penguins versus Washington Capitals National Hockey League game on December 10, 2021 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

In an era of the NHL where everyone seems fixated on the young starts of the game, Alexander Ovechkin is showing everyone that he is still just as relevant as he was 15 years ago.

At the beginning of the season, we discussed the legacy of Ovechkin and whether or not he can realistically surpass Wayne Gretzky’s record. Thirty games into the season and not only is Ovi proving he can certainly pass The Great One, but he looks as strong as he ever has.

Ovechkin is tied for the lead in the NHL with 47 points, alongside Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. Ovechkin has only claimed the Art Ross Trophy for NHL points leader once, which was during his 65-goal campaign in 2007-08.

On pace for more than 125 points this season, there’s a good chance that the Great 8 could capture the Art Ross Trophy again. If he does, there should be zero argument that he deserves the Hart Memorial Trophy as well.

While I’m not a fan of the Hart trophy going to the player who scores the most points, you can’t find another player performing at a more dominant level than Ovechkin is right now. Amid numerous injuries to the forward lines in Washington, Ovi hasn’t missed a beat in his chase to surpass the unthinkable mark of 894 goals.

After a scorching start to the season that saw him net 12 goals in the first 14 games, Ovechkin had moved into fourth place on the all-time goals list, passing Marcel Dionne and Brett Hull. Ovi followed this up with six goals in a four-game span, including his first hat trick of the season.

Despite this performance, criticism mounted when Ovechkin scored just one goal in a six-game stretch in early December. A recent article in The Score claimed if Ovi does indeed pass Gretzky, it is due to his advantage in overtime goals.

Yes, Ovechkin has the most overtime goals in NHL history, but this “advantage” is misunderstood. It’s almost impossible to argue that Gretzky played in an era where goalies did everything they could to stop a shot except for standing right in front of it. Goaltending has improved drastically since Gretzky’s time. Just look at these snapshots coming from Alexander the Great.

If you drop that powerful shot into the mid 1980’s, he is out scoring Gretzky every season.

Following this criticism, Ovi has scored in back-to-back games, putting him one goal behind Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. What we are seeing from Alex Ovechkin is something we have never seen before.

Compare this season from Ovi to some of the other legends in sport in their older years. When Michael Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards, his peak points average was 22.9, well below the league leader (Allen Iverson – 31.4).

Tom Brady has led the NFL in touchdown passes just once since his age-34 season. Not even Gretzky can compare. The most goals Gretzky scored after his age-30 season was 38. To put that in perspective, Ovechkin is on pace for 60 goals this season, at age 36. That is incredible. 

If he were to hit that mark, Ovi would pass Gordie Howe for second place on the goals list, leaving only Gretzky in his sights with FOUR YEARS left on his contract.

Safe to say we are witnessing what should be considered as one of the greatest individual seasons in NHL history.

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